With a goal of getting out and about more, we headed to Wadi Shees this weekend.
After the early morning fog cleared, the drive proved to be really pleasant. The kids were awed by the series of tunnels that one needs to drive through to access the location. Apparently, these tunnels are some of the longest in the Middle East and cut through the Hajar mountains as you approach Khor Fakkan.
Wadi Shees Nature Trail
The Wadi Shees Nature Trail turned out to be a relatively easy hike. It can take anywhere between 30-45 minutes depending on if you stop to read all the very informative signboards. Definitely recommend stopping and reading because they really help put the area in great context.
The info boards say that Wadi Shees area was once a busy settlement. The ruler of Sharjah used to also visit often. The house that he used to stay in is now a mosque. The area is now mainly used by local farmers. The kids were excited to see the goats.
But what we found the most interesting was that Wadi Shees is a rarity in that it has fresh water flowing all year round. This is due to the Falaj system (system that collects rainwater in underground wells and distributes it through an irrigation network) which was built 3,000 years ago (yes, you read that correctly!).
The Falaj is a traditional channel that transports water from underground by gravity for many purposes, like drinking, irrigation, cleaning.
And you can really see the effect this water source has on the area – it is so lush, with the wonderful sound of running water in the background. The Falaj has of course been renovated over the years, but you can still feel the history and the impact it has on the area.
The Terraced Gardens
Terracing is a farming method to make use of lands in the mountains area. People build stone walls filled in with soil, creating a level area for farming, containing the water and the nutrients. They are more specific for the ancient civilizations that chose elevated areas to be protected by invaders.
The Shees Park
A short drive away from the nature trail is Shees Park. This is a great place to stop for a picnic lunch…and bathroom break! They also have a café where you can get a bite to eat.
The park has a big play area, as well as lots of picnic tables overlooking the mountains…just as nice as it sounds! There is a series of stairs that takes you higher and higher up towards a small observation platform with benches at every level.
A very cool point to note about the park is that there are about 5 BBQ stations. They seemed to be available on a first-come, first-serve basis (check on this before you go!).
Overall, a great short excursion! Long enough to feel like you’re going on an adventure, short enough to keep the ‘I’m booooored! Are we there yet?’ type comments at bay…just remember to pack lots of snacks!